9 Types of Floor Options for Your HomeAugust 13, 2022
Few features in the home combine form and function quite like flooring. You literally walk all over it, yet it’s also a crucial design element, every bit as visually impactful as paint colors and furniture. Then there’s the size of the investment, especially if you’re redoing the floors throughout your entire home. “It’s not far behind the cost of a new car or all new kitchen appliances, but most people aren’t armed with nearly as much information,” says Carol Swedlow, President of Aronson’s Floor Covering, which has been selling all manner of flooring out of its New York City showroom since 1867.
The Good Housekeeping Institute has been around since 1900, and our experts have long appreciated the importance of flooring to a home’s look and functionality. We’ve rigorously tested timeless materials like wood and stone, along with newer alternatives like vinyl and engineered wood flooring, both of which came about in the 1970s. More recently, our experts have followed the rise in popularity of even more materials, including concrete and wood-look porcelain.
Our ultimate flooring guide walks you through all the options, including pros, cons and basic pricing information for the best types of flooring for your home. Keep in mind that most houses feature multiple flooring materials, depending on the room and your needs. Our advice on that front hasn’t changed in over a hundred years: Spend more on the high-traffic, high-visibility areas of your home, and choose lower-cost, durable materials everywhere else.
There are two main types of hardwood flooring: solid wood flooring, which as the name implies consists of a one solid piece of wood, and engineered wood flooring, in which a thin veneer of real wood is bonded to layers of structural plywood. Both types come in up to fifty species, with some of the most popular options being oak, ash, maple and walnut.
- Pros: The warmth and beauty of hardwood flooring explains its enduring appeal. Since the material can be sanded and refinished multiple times (especially solid wood versions) a well-maintained hardwood floor can last for decades, or even centuries.
- Cons: The biggest downside is cost. Though some species are less expensive than others, wood flooring tends to be the most expensive. It’s also subject to dents and scratches, plus solid flooring in particular will expand and contract with changes in humidity levels, leading to cracks, splinters and squeaky boards (engineered flooring does much better with moisture, making it suitable to kitchens and basements).
- Cost: Solid wood flooring, $5 to $10 per square foot, installed; Engineered wood flooring, $4 to $9 per square foot, installed.
Laminate is another…